Alcohol, Cause, or Effect?
Is alcohol the cause or the effect? Could it be both? I often wondered how my husband was not concerned about my drinking. I was worried about how much I drank, but he never seemed to be. He would take care of me when I went too far. With absolutely no judgment from whatever he had done to take care of me the evening before.
During a random conversation with my husband that started about an entirely different topic, I got my answer. He never worried about my alcohol consumption because he considered my consumption the effect of another cause. Huh. Interesting. And so, I wondered, was alcohol the effect of a different cause?
Of course, alcohol was the effect of a completely different cause. I bet you are thinking, ‘really, Talia, ya think alcohol was the effect of a different cause?’ I know, sometimes I am not the sharpest tool in the shed. One doesn’t grow up in an abusive environment without having the scars to show for it. Unfortunately, I kept pouring alcohol on the wounds, so they never healed.
The Cause-and-Effect Alcohol Cycle
Is alcohol the cause or the effect? If it is either of those, it isn’t a linear cause-and-effect. I think the original cause for drinking leads into the cause-and-effect alcohol cycle. For me, I used alcohol as something to get through emotionally charged times. Then alcohol started to be a cause unto itself that affected my life, separate from all of the baggage I carry with me.
But then because alcohol holds a central place in many events, not just in our lives, but in the lives of others. Trust me, I have noticed how much alcohol is centric to almost all occasions, and yes, I am hyper-aware because I don’t drink, but still. And then we drink more often because it isn’t just for our reasons, but the reasons of others.
Alcohol became a central theme in my life. Because, like any addictive drug, I needed more alcohol to get to that place where we don’t feel the pain. And never mind the horrible things I was doing to my body and my brain. I wanted so desperately not to feel anything. But not feeling is not the answer. What I had to do is get to the root of the real cause. To do that, I needed to ask myself, why? And that is the most challenging question to answer.
Figuring Out the Why
When I look at alcohol being the cause or effect, I was looking for something to blame for the way I am or who I am. And maybe I did blame alcohol for some things; it was certainly more comfortable than taking looking internally to ask that ultimate of ultimate questions, why? Why am I in such mental pain that I need a drug to dull that pain? Basically, why am I the way I am?
There is always a reason or multiple reasons for the things that we do. And there are so many factors contributing to who we are that there isn’t a way to pinpoint one cause. I know some things occurred in my life, which had such a profound effect on me that led me down the road that I was on.
Excessive drinking was the effect of growing up in an abusive environment, and never dealing with any of it, or even being honest with myself about those things. The feelings and the darkness that stemmed from those experiences earlier have affected me throughout my lifetime. And numbing those things with alcohol is not dealing with them, and so those effects only got worse, not better.
Alcohol as a Tool
While writing this, I have figured out that alcohol is neither a cause nor an effect. It is a tool that we use to unburden ourselves if only for a short time, from whatever it is that torments us. Alcohol is a tool that I used to quiet my mind and quiet all of the things that haunted me.
I did not have any other tools to use. I hadn’t taken the time to learn any. No, let me back up a moment. I didn’t want to take the time to learn other tools because I didn’t want to admit that I needed tools to live my life. I was scared. It was easier to keep drinking and bury my head in the sand when the anger and the despair paralyzed me. Or when I was too tired from running from the memories from all of those years ago.
Alcohol is not the best tool to use to cope with the memories of abuse or deal with whatever it is in your life that is painful. It is a tool that we have all used to get us through rough times. And that is okay. Alcohol, if used at all, is a short-term tool. It is the tourniquet you put on to stop from bleeding to death. But that tourniquet needs to be removed so that medical professionals can address the wound. Otherwise, you will lose your limb or your life.
Affecting the Present
When I look at alcohol becoming a cause and effect in my life, it did, but only if I looked specifically at the cycle of alcohol cause and effect on my life. Alcohol was not the root cause of why I drank. It was the tool that I used for way too long. I thought I could use a short-term tourniquet to stave off the bleeding of my soul. I know that now.
The problem when you take off a tourniquet that has been on for way too long is that you don’t know what you are going to get. When I finally took that tourniquet off, I was left with something that I didn’t know if I could come back from, and if I do, who would I be? I think that is, in part, where some of my fear originated. I didn’t know if I would recognize myself anymore.
And at first, I didn’t recognize myself. I had to find my identity sans alcohol. And I am still trying to figure that out as I go through life now. But for the first time, I can see myself for who I am, who I want to be. There is a level of clarity there that I don’t think I have ever had. I look now to the present day, and I focus on the things that I can change. There are only two, my thoughts and my actions. That’s it. Sounds too simple, right? Yeah, well, simple isn’t necessarily easy.